O-kuizome – An Elaborate Feast for Baby
We recently celebrated o-kuizome (お食い初め), baby’s first meal. It is done in hopes that a baby will have no difficulty in procuring food in his/her lifetime.
Back in the day, extended relatives and family friends were invited to attend a baby’s o-kuizome. In recent days, it’s done just with parents and grandparents. Some modern families now even conduct o-kuizome as an event just for parents and baby.
As with o-miya mairi, the exact date may vary by region. You can celebrate it when baby is 100 days old or even as late as 110 or 120 days after birth.
In our case, we planned to visit the in-laws during Golden Week, and they wanted to have baby’s o-kuizome at that time. When Golden Week approached, baby was around 90 days old, so we weren’t too far off the mark.
We we late due to Golden Week traffic. As baby had slept in the car, she was well rested by the time we arrived, giving us the perfect opportunity to start the celebration.
My in-laws prepared a very elaborate feast for such a tiny baby. Little Kaiju had several types of foods to be “eat” with special celebratory chopsticks (祝箸iwaibashi).
The foods prepared follow the washoku formula of “one soup, three dishes” (一汁三菜 ichijuu sansai). Soup (吸い物 suimono), fish (魚 sakana) stewed dish (煮物 niimono), pickled vegetables (香の物 kounomo) and rice (赤飯 sekihan).
The fish is served intact because the name of the fish, tai, or sea bream, is a play on o-medetai, a word used for congratulatory purposes.
Of course, a baby can’t eat any of those foods, so o-kuizome is in fact a wonderful photo op for family members as they try to “feed” baby.
I’ve seen that after the “feeding,” parents offer a smooth rock to the baby. Its purpose is to promote strong and healthy teeth; in our case, no such rock was available.
One of the things I love about going to Ibaraki is the abundance of fish. There’s even a guy who goes around door to door in my in-laws’ neighborhood selling recently caught fish. He doesn’t even ring the doorbell. He just opens the door and yells, “I got fresh xxx today!”
Baby couldn’t eat the sea bream, but we definitely did! For lunch, the adults had and for sashimi, including my favorite, katsuo (bonito) Plus, for dinner we had saba (mackerel) too!
Okuizome – An Elaborate Feast for Baby
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